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Special Focus: Holding the Bodies of Deceased Palestinians by Israel

Monday, 09 November 2015 16:04 Ref.: 118/2015
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Holding-the-Bodies-of-Deceased-Palestinians-05On Wednesday, 14 October 2015, Israel approved a proposal to hold the bodies of alleged Palestinians attackers killed during attacks, thereby denying families from burying their loved ones. Israel is currently holding the bodies of 24 Palestinians, including 6 children, who were killed by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) for allegedly carrying out attacks against Israelis.

Since 1 October 2015, Israel killed 70 Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel,[1] of which 44 were killed in alleged attacks against Israelis. This is a direct result of Israel’s use of excessive and lethal force against Palestinians. This has revealed an Israeli trend of using lethal force to kill Palestinians from close proximity even in situations where other means are possible to control and subdue the alleged attacker.[2] According to international principles, the use of lethal force is only permitted “when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life”[3] and its use must aim to preserve human life. The manner in which many Palestinians were killed indicates that the killings may amount to unlawful killings.

Below is a list of the Palestinians whose bodies still remain in the custody of the IOF. The list includes the bodies of 10 Palestinians from Jerusalem, 13 from Hebron (including a 73-year-old woman) and a child from Jenin.

 

 

Victim's Name

Age

Date of Death

Place of Origin

Killing Location

Killing Circumstances

Killed by

1.

Thaer Abu Ghazalleh

20

8 October 2015

Jerusalem

Tel Aviv

Alleged Attack IOF

2.

Ishaq Qasem Badran

16

10 October 2015

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

3.

Muhammad Sa'id Ali

20

10 October 2015

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

4.

Mustafa Al-Khatib

17

12 October 2015

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

5.

Hasan Manasra

15

12 October 2105

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

6.

Baha Allyan

22

13 October 2015

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

7.

Alaa Abu-Jamal

33

13 October 2015

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

8.

Basel Bassam Seder

20

14 October 2015

Hebron

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

9.

Ahmad Fathi Abu Sha'aban

23

14 October 2015

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

10.

Fadel Al-Qwasmeh

18

17 October 2015

Hebron

Hebron

Alleged Attack Israeli settler

11.

Mu'taz Ahmad Eweisat

16

17 October 2015

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Alleged Attack IOF

12.

Hamza Mousa Al-'Amla

25

20 October 2015

Hebron

Hebron

Alleged Attack IOF

13.

Sa'd Muhammad al-Atrash

19

26 October 2015

Hebron

Hebron

Alleged Attack IOF

14.

'Izz-al-Din Nadi Abu-Shakhdam

17

27 October 2015

Hebron

Hebron

Alleged Attack IOF

15.

Shadi Nabil Dweik

22

27 October 2015

Hebron

Hebron

Alleged Attack IOF

16.

Hammam 'Adnan al-Sa'id

22

27 October 2015

Hebron

Hebron

Alleged Attack IOF

17.

Islam Rafiq 'Ebeido

23

28 October 2015

Hebron

Hebron

Alleged attack IOF

18.

Mahdi Muhammad al-Muhtasib

23

29 October 2015

Hebron

Hebron

Alleged attack IOF
19. Farouq 'Abd-al-Qader Sidr 19 29 October 2015 Hebron Hebron Alleged Attack IOF
20. Ahmad Hamada Quneibi 23 30 October 2015 Jerusalem Jerusalem Alleged Attack IOF
21. Fadi Hasan al-Froukh 29 1 November 2015 Hebron Hebron Alleged Attack IOF
22. Ahmad Awad Abu-al-Rub 17 2 November 2015 Jenin Jenin Alleged Attack IOF
23. Malek Talal al-Sharif 25 5 November 2015 Hebron Hebron Alleged Attack IOF
24. Tharwat Ibrahim al-Sha’rawi 72 6 November 2015 Hebron Hebron Alleged attack IOF

 

Holding the bodies of the deceased is not a new practice by Israel; it has been used previously to “deter other Palestinians from carrying out attacks” or as “bargaining chips” for prisoner Holding_the_Bodies_of_Deceased_Palestinians_03exchanges or exchanges of Israeli soldiers bodies.[4] Instead of handing over the bodies, Israel buries the bodies of Palestinians in ‘cemeteries of numbers’. Bodies of Palestinians are buried in secret graveyards, where graves are marked with numbers on small metal plates rather than with their names.

By retaining the bodies of those killed, Israel is directly violating its obligations under international law. Under customary international humanitarian law, parties of armed conflict must respect the dead.[5] An obligation to return remains of the deceased and the personal effects of the dead is set forth in the Geneva Conventions[6] and is reiterated by Additional Protocol I (AP I). This includes collecting, evacuating and burying the deceased. Under the provisions of Article 130 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the deceased must be “honourably buried, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, and that their graves are respected, properly maintained, and marked in such a way that they can always be recognized”. The families of the deceased must also be notified. According to Article 32 of AP I families have the right “to know the fate of their relatives” as well as “the exact location of their graves”.[7]

Holding_the_Bodies_of_Deceased_Palestinians_01The customary rule of the obligation for respectful burial and tending of graves was also upheld by the Israeli High Court (HCJ). In 2002, the HCJ in the Jenin (Mortal Remains) case upheld that burial of the deceased must be performed with respect, in a timely manner and according to religious custom, and if possible, the remains must be returned to the families of the deceased. As recognized by the HCJ, this obligation is “a direct consequence of the principle for the dead – respect for all dead”. [8]

Al-Haq is deeply concerned by Israel's illegal practice of holding the bodies of deceased Palestinians and urges Israel to return the bodies of the deceased to their families for proper burial and mourning.

 



[2] For example in this video, Fadi Alloun was fatally shot by an Israeli officer in Jerusalem. The police officer is seen firing one shot and then Fadi is seen falling to the ground. The officer, however, continued shooting even after Fadi fell down and the sound of six more shots is heard.

[3] Provision 9, United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, (1990).

[4]Qawasimi, Hanadi. “Cemeteries of numbers: Israel takes revenge on Palestinian corpses”. 28 November 2014. Available at:http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/politics/2014/11/28/cemeteries-of-numbers-israel-takes-revenge-on-palestinian-corpses and Melhem, Ahmad. “Palestinian dead become Israeli bargaining chip”. 29 July 2015. Available at:http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/07/palestine-israel-cemeteries-of-numbers-martyrs-burial.html#

[5] Rule 115. Disposal of the Dead of Customary IHL. .

[6] Article 17 of the First Geneva Convention; Article 20 of the Second Geneva Convention; Article 120 of the Third Geneva Convention and Article 130 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

[7] Article 130 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

[8] Barake v. Minister of Defense [2002] Israel HCJ. 

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